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THE PIANIST

This Oscar-winning drama is the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish pianist who miraculously survived the Holocaust.


(Now in stores)

CAST: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Maureen Lipman, Emilia Fox, Ed Stoppard, Julia Rayner, Jessica Kate Meyer, Ruth Platt

DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski

"It's Roman Polanski's strongest and most personally felt movie...At times, the tension between the unwavering directness of his technique and the anguish that is behind it is almost unbearable. When we see a Nazi soldier casually shoot a Jewish girl in the head for asking an innocent question, or when we see soldiers throw an old man in a wheelchair over a balcony, we are staring into an everyday inferno... In 'The Pianist,' suffering is seen with such clarity that its relief becomes a balm of the greatest magnitude. It's the relief we get when Szpilman plays the piano again, or merely makes it through another day. In moments like these, we are confronted with the significance, the momentousness, of the ordinary." -- Peter Rainer, New York

"I must report that during the screening of the movie, I felt an excruciating sensation of helplessness and hopelessness, as if the Holocaust were still about to happen, and the poor wretches on the screen could not begin to anticipate the totality of the event...What makes 'The Pianist' authentically Polanskian is the absurdist detachment of the artist who keeps practicing his art even when the world is crumbling around him...Mr. Polanski is in his element here: alone, abandoned, but still consoled by his art, which is more than he has ever revealed before about the source of his spiritual survival." -- Andrew Sarris, The New York Observer

"Mr. Polanski, who was a Jewish child in Krakow when the Germans arrived in September 1939, presents Szpilman's story with bleak, acid humor and with a ruthless objectivity that encompasses both cynicism and compassion. When death is at once so systematically and so capriciously dispensed, survival becomes a kind of joke. By the end of the film, Szpilman, brilliantly played by Adrien Brody, comes to resemble one of Samuel Beckett's gaunt existential clowns, shambling through a barren, bombed-out landscape clutching a jar of pickles. He is like the walking punchline to a cosmic jest of unfathomable cruelty...This is certainly the best work Mr. Polanski has done in many years." -- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"With his splendid new film, ‘The Pianist,’ Polanski moves closer to his own World War II nightmare, but he filters it through someone else's survivor memoir: that of a well-known classical pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman…Brody doesn't play this man. He inhabits him…In creating his one-man epic, Polanski takes us beyond the horror of evil or the banality of evil. He takes us into its hideous absurdity." --Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Polanski, who escaped the Krakow ghetto when he was a child, has spent his entire filmmaking career making movies that, steeped in alienation and paranoia, carry traces of the Holocaust. This time, faced with the historical event, he tempers his style, and the alienation and paranoia creep in from the outside, unescorted and relentless...In his book and in Polanski's telling, the musician's tortuous journey is neither triumphant nor beautiful; it is, rather, a testament to the essential human desire to live." -- Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"Adrien Brody gives a magnificent performance as the refined musician who sinks lower and lower as the war wears on. Toward the end, he is reduced to something out of a pathetic silent comedy...Polanski films the story in a dry-eyed way that goes for the telling detail rather than the melodrama. He shows the small grotesqueries of daily life in the ghetto...Polanski, working in Poland after an absence of 40 years, constructs an indelibly vivid picture of the city." -- Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"This is not a thriller, and avoids any temptation to crank up suspense or sentiment; it is the pianist's witness to what he saw and what happened to him…By showing Szpilman as a survivor but not a fighter or a hero--as a man who does all he can to save himself, but would have died without enormous good luck and the kindness of a few non-Jews--Polanski is reflecting, I believe, his own deepest feelings: that he survived, but need not have, and that his mother died and left a wound that had never healed." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Polanski is once again directing with the dark intelligence of ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Knife in the Water’…After being left on the cutting-room floor of ‘The Thin Red Line,’ Adrien Brody at last has his star-making role…Toward the end, there's a scene in which Wladyslaw gets to play once more…and I don't know if I've seen a moment in movies that more profoundly addresses what it means to be alive." --Ty Burr, Boston Globe